Why has Europe lost interest in landing on an asteroid? The Washington Post recently published an article startling suggesting Europe wasn’t interested in exploring and redirecting an asteroid. This was an American proposal to learn more about asteroids and how to save our planet from a future asteroid strike. This strike might happen in the next century – 2185 to 2196 – or sooner if from an unseen intruder.
Basically, they decided their budget wasn’t large enough to do it at this time, perhaps later. We are still years away from this mission – they’ll eventually come along.
I had mentioned in a previous article that landing on an asteroid was strictly about protecting earth from future impacts. This is not really for mining. Mining an asteroid is pure nonsense if the intention is to bring metals and materials back to earth.
It might someday be feasible to use an asteroid as a way station for craft to use to land, refuel, and take on supplies. However, nothing that can be mined on an asteroid is worth the expense of building the facility and mining it, unless the material is actually to be used there in space.
Any minerals or metals you can find on an asteroid can be found right here on earth. On earth they can be mined for a fraction of the cost. So, except perhaps for some desired science samples of original early solar system dust and amino acids found on or near the asteroid’s surface, the idea is ridiculous. It is practical perhaps only as a science expedition, but not for commercial mining. Read about it here.
The mining story is subterfuge to redirect our attention from the true story. Just as an illusionist misdirects us to watch the wrong hand while he prepares his trick, so too is our doing with asteroid mining. Most asteroids are located in the asteroid belt on the other side of the orbit of Mars – quite a distance.
So what is the real story? My thought is that to avoid public panic, this will appear as just another science exploration.
A future impactor will be visited by our craft which will be placed into a synchronous orbit. The craft will contain an industrial laser. The laser we will heat a spot on the surface up to tens of thousands of degrees, melting it. This will create spewing molten material which will spurt from the asteroid into space, creating a rocket of sorts. This would slowly cause the asteroid to move into a different orbit that would miss the earth.
This laser blasting could actually continue for several months, or even years.
Therefore, it is likely the best answer to achieving our goal. When landing on an asteroid the craft would have to be repositioned as the asteroid pulls away from it, but that is nothing that cannot be solved.
I am sure more on this topic will come up a lot over the next ten years. Stay tuned.
Any thoughts on landing on an asteroid?